Camp Pekiwewin calling for COVID-19 response plan and on-site testing following first outbreak in city’s homeless community

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The camp is asking for a fence to be set up around the camp boundaries to designate clear entry and exit points as well as resources for daily screenings of residents.

Robinson also amplified the camp’s demand for widespread free transit, saying it is an integral step if the city wants to meet the goal of ending homelessness in the city. Without it, Robinson said people desperately trying to transition into housing may wind up back on the streets if they are continuously handed $250 fines for fare evasion.

“We are pressing the city to further commit to a free transit plan so that people who find permanent, supportive housing, who find a transitional situation that is conducive to them getting housing, can maintain that position. Because if they receive a $250 transit ticket in the middle of that transition, they will not be able to maintain it,” she said. “It would not be a successful endeavour to try to end houselessness in this without rendering transit free to folks who need it most.”

Mayor Don Iveson said free transit for all isn’t feasible because of its high costs, but the city does offer about 600 monthly passes to those experiencing homelessness and recently expanded eligibility for low-income monthly passes.

“The city is targeting subsidy to people who need it and that’s the most effective use of dollars. So free transit’s not on the table,” he said.

Iveson previously said he wants a plan to end homelessness within 10 weeks before cold weather hits. He has called on the federal government to assist in purchasing existing hotels and apartment buildings to be quickly converted into permanent, supportive housing.

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